HE News Brief 13.2.12
By Abby Chau
- China: Private institutions are widening participation
- Middle East: Some branch campuses are flourishing due to marketing strategies
- Zambia: Quality measures are put into place by the government
- Rankings: Webometrics has just published its latest results
Private institutions are flourishing in China, where demand for higher education is still growing at a healthy rate. In a province one hour south of Beijing, 14 private universities are in operation. In 1997, when only about 10 percent of 18-22 year-olds attended university, there were approximately 20 private institutions and now, as enrolment rates reach 27%, there are over 630. By 2020, the government hopes to push these participation figures further to 40%. Although private institutions are flourishing and have no difficulties in enrolling students, some are asking whether graduates are able to find high quality jobs, in particular government jobs, which are highly prized. Some also say that private institutions still remain second choices for most students, or namely those students who do not perform well in the national entrance exams. However advocates of private institutions say that the more focused programmes allow students to hone in on their specialised skills and a more practical versus a theoretical approach is important for those students wanting to get a head start in the job market.
The emergence of branch campuses has been a cause of controversy almost since its inception. Now there are approximately 200 foreign branches around the world. The University of Wollongong was one of the first to set up in the Middle East, which along with Asia, is seen as a lucrative market. Wollongong’s success in Dubai has attracted attention; it started with only eight students in 1993. Today it has over 500 students and its operation is located in Knowledge Village, an area which has been designated as a special economic zone. It’s success, according to Jason E. Lane of the Cross-Border Education Research Team in Albany, is as much attributed to starting off modestly than its achievement of building a strong brand. Executive director for administration and strategic development at Wollongong, Raymi van der Spek proudly says that universities cannot rely on its reputation alone and that marketing should play an enormous role in recruiting students.
Zambia’s government has put quality measures in place to counteract the number of underperforming institutions which has proliferated in the country. Out of Zambia’s 20 institutions, 3 are government-run while 17, some not accredited, are privately owned. The Higher Education Authority Bill stipulates that the government will audit institutions and work with those underperforming with a view of registering them in six months’ time. If they do not meet the standards after six months, then they will be forced to close. The government is also planning on creating science and technical colleges and universities and are intending to develop state colleges into universities.
Webometrics’ Ranking Web of World Universities, which measures web presence, have just published its latest results. The top ten all hail from the United States, with Harvard, MIT, and Stanford towing the line. The first non-US based institution to make it onto the list is the University of Toronto at 17, followed by Universidade de Sao Paulo USP at 20. This year, Webometrics has expanded its rankings to include over 20,000 institutions from around the world. It has also tweaked its methodology including using a new data provider Majestic SEO.